Recalling my early years in Christian ministry, I am embarrassed to realize how much I invested in something that could have been called "Gordon MacDonald, Inc." It was too much about me and not enough about Jesus and others.
Somewhere along the line, my self-building activities gave way to building an organization, a church-organization. That meant recruiting teams, encouraging leaders, conceiving strategies that would cause a congregation to grow (both spiritually and numerically). Pastoring became a very satisfying experience, and I loved my work … most of the time.
But one weekend, after years of organization building, I awakened to something much better—a sweet spot of ministry, you could say, where it all just seemed right. Rather than building me or even building an organization, I discovered people-building, a ministry with younger Christians who—properly prepared—might go on to be difference-makers in some part of the kingdom.
That awakening happened when I visited the United States Military Academy at West Point as a speaker in the cadet chapel. I was astonished at the dignity and excellence of the men and women I met. It was unforgettable.
The mission of the USMA is: "to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country, and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army."
It got me wondering: what is the equivalent in the church where I pastor? Where and how do we educate, train, and inspire leaders capable of influencing others for the sake of Jesus Christ? The truth was that we weren't doing that.
Oh, sure, we had leadership ...